HR: One Devil of a Profession

"Wouldn't it be grand if the human resources department could free itself from bookkeeping and law clerking and devote itself to the business of having a life?"

These are not my words, but the words of another. Where do you think they came from? Human Resource Executive, SHRM Magazine, or HR blogs? Has to be something recent, right? It's all the rage in HR circles today. 

If you guessed an article published September 8, 1999, you are correct. 

In his article, "Angels in the workplace save him from the devils in HR," author Dale Dauten described an angel of an HR dude who dissuaded him from a career in HR. He went on to quote an HR consultant who noted that the profession 'has made a pact with the devil: the more labor legislation that gets enacted, the more pay, prestige and power HR gets.'

The more things change, the more things stay the same except, this time,  nothing has changed. It's 2010 and the devil of a conversation remains.

I have a tenuous relationship with HR but stay with the profession because there are things that I value and I enjoy. Yes, there are things that I don't and I can control them. I dislike benefits so I stay as far away from them as I can. I want to learn more about talent management, so I direct my efforts that way. Easy peasy, right?

To a certain point, yes, but I can't control everything. One thing out of my control is SHRM, the  organization that represents me as an HR professional. I've had a very arms-length "take-it-or-leave-it" attitude towards SHRM yet all this hoopla about lawsuits, transparency, and the what-not has caught my attention.

When I look at SHRM today, I see messiness, I see cat/dog fights, and I see distress. What's real, what's the other side of the story and is this blown out of proportion? I don't know. I don't know what's going in, on or at SHRM (arms-length approach, remember) but I do know what's going on with me.

When I look 10 years to the future, I see HR pros referring back to the devil of a 1999 article wondering why we still haven't changed. I see me reminiscing about the days of SHRM and seeing the questioning looks of the faces of young HR pros asking, "What is SHRM?"

SHRM, be an angel and get it together. This is not the way to change the course of a profession.